Artfire VS Etsy: FIVE BIG Reasons Artfire is Better

Hello Readers! I am delighted to introduce Gail of Cross Stitch Cards to explain why she packed up her handmade greeting card business and made the move from Etsy to Artfire. She is here to bring us the facts so show her the love with your comments, clicks, and witty responses!

P.S. I also have a comparison of Etsy VS Big Cartel and Storenvy, so check that out too if you're thinking about spreading your business to one of those venues!

You've created your handmade products. Congratulations! You've already made the decision to make something and sell it online, but now there's a more important decision to be made.  Which online marketplace is right for you?  There are many to choose from and two of the most well known are Etsy and Artfire.   Using my own experiences, I will be looking at several aspects of the sites to help you decide which one (if either) is right for you.  I started using Etsy and then moved to Artfire after about a year, as a lot of my Etsy friends were moving and I wanted to see what all the fuss was about!

Check out our great  2012 Update!

1)  Fees that Don’t Require a Graphing Calculator

Let's start with the bottom line:  Fees and Charges.

Etsy will charge you $0.20 for each listing that you activate or renew.  They will also charge you a small Final Value Fee of 3.5% when you sell your item.  The listings are active for four months before they expire.  I consider this to be a cheap price to pay when you compare it to Ebay for example where the fees are much higher. [Don’t forget the Paypal Fees on top of this!!]

Artfire offers two levels of seller accounts.  The Basic Account is completely free in every aspect.  No monthly fee, no listing fees, and no final value fees.  The Pro Account is currently $9.95 per month with no extra fees, and it gives you more features like a blog to use, shop sections to organize your items, and preferential appearance in search results. The listings are permanent until you deactivate them.  I currently have a Basic account which means that I do not pay any fees.

More about Artfire’s Basic Account:
The purpose of the basic account is to let new users get a feel for the site, get to know their way around, and get some items listed; a free introduction to the online experience.  Most will upgrade to Pro because of the extra features that it offers.  The most useful of these features to me right now would be shop sections.  Once you have a large number of items listed, it is easier for the buyer to jump straight to the shop section that they need rather than scroll through pages and pages of your items.  I mean, you don't go into a department store and wander all the way round menswear if you are looking for the lingerie, do you?  You go straight to the right part of the store!

2)  Sure-fire Search Engine Results that Won’t Put a Hole in Your Pocket
(A significant cause of the Etsy-to-Artfire movement)

When you list an item on Etsy, it moves further and further down the search listings the longer you leave it there.  In a saturated market such as Jewelry sales, your items will soon disappear among the masses.  The only way to bring it back to the top of the search list is to re-list the item.  This will, of course, mean paying the $0.20 fee again.  Many sellers were needing to re-list their items several times a week to keep them on the first few pages of search and the cost really starts to mount up.

Artfire recommends leaving your listings alone.  The longer they remain active, the more likely they are to be found in a search.  They submit your item details to Google Shopping and your items will pop up on there on a regular basis when shoppers search for them.  If you start deactivating or re-listing items, it can damage your placement in search results.  

Artfire get a definite plus point on this as they do some of the work for you there.  The constant need to re-list with Etsy is time consuming and expensive, and takes time away from you creating your product.  With the fixed fee per month on Artfire, you know exactly how much you will be paying.

3)  Show More Photos of Your Product- You Deserve It!

I liked the layout of the Etsy storefront when I was using it.  Particularly the way that the photos were displayed.  The alternate photos are displayed right next to the main picture and it was so simple to click on the one you wanted to view.  

Artfire has the extra pictures displayed underneath the main one, with a scroll bar to look at further pictures.  I am finding this a little hard to come to grips with at the moment.  The reason for the difference is that you can upload more pictures on Artfire than Etsy, and using a scroll bar is the only way to be able to put them on the screen without having the pictures take over.  It's a small point, and one that just takes a little bit of getting used to, but still worth mentioning.

4) Artfire Will Help You Make the Switch, with a Guide Tailored to Former Etsy Users

The act of actually listing an item for sale is different for both sites.  Etsy wants a short descriptive title, and Artfire likes a long title with lots of keywords.  It's important to read the help guides on each site before starting.  In fact, Artfire has a special guide for you to read if you're moving from Etsy, as the two sites do operate differently as detailed in the previous section.  The rest of the listing process is pretty similar on both sites as you choose your tags and upload your pictures.
5)  All Shoppers Welcome, No Need to “Sign Up”

I have bought and sold on Etsy and it is a straightforward user experience on both sides.  Just like any other online purchase it is easy if you are used to it!  I have only sold on Artfire so far, but my buyers certainly didn't have any problems, so I have to assume that the same applies with buying.  As with any online purchase, if you want the item, you'll find a way.  Not much to choose between them on this as it's pretty standard across the web.

To buy an Etsy item you do need to register on the site and open an account.  Some people don't wish to do this to just buy one item, they will go and look elsewhere.  To buy on Artfire, you do not need to register or have an account.  You can simply “add item to cart” and checkout using Paypal or any other form of payment that the seller accepts.  I think this opens up the market much more and makes it easier for the buyer.

Sorry Etsy, You Lose:

My general conclusion would be that there is nothing that I particularly dislike about either site.  I would be happy to use Artfire or Esty for selling my products.  However, the fees and charges is the main place where it is won or lost for me right now.

Etsy was a lovely, friendly environment for me to begin my handmade venture.  It seemed like a gentle introduction to the world of handcrafted item sales.  I was able to put as much or as little into it as I wanted.  However, there did seem to be a certain pressure there to sell because I was paying a fee for the listings and re-listings all the time.  There was a month where I paid more in fees than I received in sales.  This caused me to think again about whether it was the right place.

On Artfire, I feel that I can take my time.  It feels a little more relaxed.  I am not currently paying any fees, and yet still making sales.  If I don't have any sales for a while, or take a week off, then I haven't wasted any money on fees.  I like the environment, the forums and the ease of listing an item.    I am sure that I will upgrade to Pro in due course, and accept the monthly fee as a regular outgoing business cost. 

I also love the fact that buyers do not need to sign up with Artfire to make a purchase.  It just seems like a more open environment where people outside of the site can easily make a purchase.  On Etsy, you are aiming your marketing at the existing users, and it seems a little shut off and in it's own little world by comparison.

Artfire gets my vote.


See more of Gail's beautifully embellished, hand-stitched cards at Cross Stitch Cards Artfire site. You can also follow her on twitter

Want to read more of Gail’s interpretation of Artfire VS Etsy? Read about her experiences in their unique community networking environments, a very important part of online sales! All this in Artfire VS Etsy part Two: Comparing the Social Experience, coming up soon to Songbird's Branch! Following is easy. Just enter your email address in the sidebar and it will be delivered to you privately by our server. Thanks for reading!
Never stop learning, growing, and reaching!

Check out our great  2012 Update!

Content by Laura Gabriele